I can just hear it now. “C’mon, man”, you say. “What’s this all about? Talking yourself out of a sale? Really?”
You may be saying to yourself, “I have enough problems talking myself into a sale. Now I have to worry about this too? You can’t be serious.” To which I reply, “Au contraire, my pool- and spa-selling friend; I am deadly serious.” As often as I find myself training salespeople how to talk themselves into a sale, I also find that I should be training them how to avoid talking themselves out of a sale. This is not a play on words, folks. It’s the real deal.
Sometimes we simply talk too much or say the wrong things. Sometimes we say the right things the wrong way or at the wrong time and poof; it’s over. Sometimes it happens that quickly. Other times the agony drags on a bit until they’ve had enough of it and we then hear those words that all salespeople dread: “We’ll think it over.” Immediately after that we find ourselves back in the car wondering what just happened and why.
Words and the salesperson
Words are the lifeblood of sales and some of us need a transfusion - fast. Words are the stock and trade of the salesperson. We live and die by the words we speak in each and every sales situation. To the cop on the beat, it’s the nightstick and handgun; for the soldier, it’s the rifle; for the baker, it’s the dough mixer; and for you, the salesperson, it’s words.
Let’s take a look at some of the challenges we face with the words we choose to speak; and not in any particular order of importance. I’ll outline some of the categories to make the illustrations more meaningful and to add some clarity. After all, I don’t want to talk myself out of a sale here, do I?
Eliminate stale “sales speak”
I’m sure that many have read a few of the better-selling sales “how to” books over the years. Some of these books have become so popular that the “sales speak” they recommended has become embedded into the lexicon of standard sales words and phrases. You recognize the phrases, of course, because you’re in sales or at least have been around sales. You just didn’t think that your prospects knew them. Well, they do and they don’t want to hear them anymore.
Here are a few examples: the well-known and often overused phrase, “what will it take for you to make a decision tonight?” Or, “what do I have to offer you to sell this pool or spa tonight?” Here’s another “best-selling” phrase that we paid big dollars for that is supposed to work like charm on your unsuspecting and slow-thinking “mark” (excuse me, I mean prospect): “If I take 10% (or whatever) off the price, will you go ahead right now?” How about this highly sophisticated and riveting catchphrase; “What will I need to do in order for you to make a decision tonight?” The operative word here is decision. The books say that this is a highly motivating word that will propel your prospects into action. And it works: they propel you right out the door!
Sales speak not only clearly identifies you as a no-talent, unsophisticated, want-to-be salesperson, but it is also demeaning to your prospect. So, stop it. They won’t jump through hoops simply because you repeat a worn-out phrase from some expensive sales book, even if it’s written by a best-selling author. And, by the way, as soon as you regurgitate one of these “sales speak jargon” phrases, they will almost always turn off to you, your company and your products.
Stop talking too much
This can be a real problem. It seems that some feel as if they are not fulfilling their role as a salesperson if they are not talking. After all, this is what we do as salespeople, isn’t it? For many, the answer is unfortunately a resounding yes.
Many still mistakenly believe that we make our living by talking. In fact, some of us believe that we are so good at conversation that we literally fall in love with the sound of our own voices. Once we start talking, we can’t seem to stop. The enjoyment that you receive when hearing your own voice delivering a presentation may not be shared by your prospects. After a short while, they may no longer want to hear you at all.
Listening to someone who loves his or her own voice is a very frustrating experience. We all know someone like this, someone who just can’t seem to end a sentence. They want to continue talking and not allow you to say a word in between what they perceive to be their perfectly melodic and harmonious tones. It seems as if they do not even require a breath between words, as the rest of us do. It’s annoying and it’s aggravating. So exasperating that soon you’re not listening to what is being said; you are only hearing that incessant, droning voice. As you should be aware, hearing is not the same as listening.
Want to earn more sales? Talk less and listen more. Ask great extraction questions and listen closely to the responses. By the way, we do not make our living by talking; we make it by listening and solving problems.
Stop selling at them (rather than to them)
Another way of talking too much is when you make the presentation all about you, rather than all about them. For instance, you may have a presentation planned and practiced that you think is just wonderful. You want to complete it no matter what may threaten to interfere with your performance, and that includes their attempt to rudely interrupt you by having the audacity to want to make a purchase prior to the finish of your dialogue.
This is a real problem with which I have first-hand experience. I recall sitting in on a presentation with a new salesperson who was making a presentation that he had practiced diligently. He completely ignored the prospect when he said, “OK, how do we get started?” The salesperson wasn’t done with the presentation, so he disregarded this obvious buying sign and continued on. Unfortunately, I allowed him to continue, because I didn’t want to embarrass him. So in short, I compounded the mistake. The prospect later developed some questions which he felt the need to ponder, and we walked out of the office without a decision. I learned my lesson. Hopefully, you’ll learn from my mistake and save yourself from the agony of talking yourself out of a sale.
When the prospect is ready, stop talking and complete the sale.
Continue to Part Two of Mario's tips — next up, his tips on tailoring your presentations for your clients.